SASCOC President Gideon Sam told Team South Africa to head off to the World Games and understand the enormous honour of representing their country, writes Mark Etheridge.
Sam was talking at the farewell banquet in Boksburg before the team jetted off to Cali, Colombia for the Games between 25 July and 4 August.
“You are the chosen few from a country of more than 50-million,” he told the team. “You’ve seen how the nation responded to 95 years of grace given us by Tata Madiba (Nelson Mandela).
“You become a different person in the colours of your country and when you compete under your flag. Digest this tonight.
“When you board the plane the eyes of the world are on you because you come from South Africa. They’ll ask you about Tata and go and be good ambassadors and make us all proud.”
Sam also reminded the athletes that they had a job to do. “I love the sound of our national anthem and I especially love it when it is sung in a foreign country,” he said.
Flagbearer for Team South Africa at the opening ceremony next Thursday will be Bianc Zoonekynd. Said the 21-year-old Port Elizabeth gymnast: “Thanks to the President all those who have faith in me. It’s a great honour and I will wave that flag high. Good luck to all my fellow team members and make us all proud.”
The team will do battle in nine different sporting codes and will be out to improve on their three-medal haul from the last version of the Games in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan four years ago.